Online therapy, does it really work?
For as long as we can remember therapy has been portrayed as the client lying down on a couch and a pensive therapist analysing their deepest darkest secrets, or sitting across from each other in a serene room, with a therapist notepad. The scene has always been shown to be a face-to-face process. Nowadays, and particularly after the pandemic, there has been a growing need for more accessible therapy - having sessions conducted entirely online and without the need to move an inch out of your house.
Traditional in-person therapy has been the norm for so long and has many benefits. Aside from the actual advantage of receiving therapy, the in-person setting itself is continuously helpful in particular aspects.
- Body language
Traditional therapy sessions offer the therapist great insight into how the client is feeling or thinking simply through their body language. This is a crucial aspect of the quality of communication between the therapist and the client.
- Neutral setting
A neutral setting that is different from the client’s everyday setting (i.e. their house) can help someone become more comfortable sharing their private and intimate information. This setting helps them separate themselves from what they were previously doing in order to become more in-tune with the session and to connect more with the therapist without any other distractions.
In most cases, clients need to schedule their sessions ahead of time and therefore adjust their schedules accordingly. Accountability also takes effect for both therapists and clients to show up, especially when physical presence is required. It’s harder to miss an appointment that has been previously planned and allocated for.
Though there are tremendous benefits to the face-to-face aspect of in-person therapy, there are also inconveniences or disadvantages that accompany it:
- Difficult commutes
Both clients and therapists are required to commute to get to the clinic which may potentially waste of time or in the case of transportation, may be an additional financial burden which can be a huge deterrent to attending in-person therapy.
- Difficulties scheduling a session
Scheduling an in-person therapy session often requires clients to call or email the clinics or centres, wait for the person responding to check the therapist’s availability, and then try to find a slot that suits both the client and the therapist. As opposed to online scheduling, which only requires the client to select a suitable slot directly from the therapist’s schedule, which often can include unconventional working hours
- Taking time off work
It’s also difficult to schedule time off work if the counselling clinic or centre near the client only operates during regular working hours. Some workplaces may not be flexible enough for employees to frequently take time off for therapy, and people may not always be comfortable disclosing why they need this time off.
- Challenges of preparing to leave your house / personal safe space
For some of us, the act of leaving the house for our therapy appointments can bring about a sense of fear. Due to the very real stigma surrounding mental health to this day, many experience severe anxiety and shame when they are seen at clinics, which adds to the challenges that could lead some of us to not want to follow through with therapy.
What is online therapy and how is it different from in-person therapy?
Online therapy is psychotherapy or counselling services that are provided virtually. Using online therapy, and specifically platforms like O7 Therapy, clients are able to connect with their therapists over live video conferencing, through the digital platform using any smart device that has an internet connection.
How can online therapy be an answer to the challenges that in-person therapy presents?
Online therapy can be an alternative method to receiving the quality mental healthcare everyone deserves.
When using online therapy, both the client and the therapist can attend the session from the comfort of the place they’re at. They can simply log on to the platform and open the communication panel at the time of the session.
- Easier scheduling and booking
There’s no need to go through the long booking process when using online therapy. Clients can instead book their sessions by directly accessing the therapist’s schedule and book one at a suitable time.
- Flexible working hours
Therapists working online often have the option to host sessions outside of traditional working hours, during the evening or early morning, which is tremendously helpful for clients who hold a 9 to 5 work schedule.
- A comfortable space
A number of clients can face challenges with leaving their beds or homes, and they may find it draining and dreadful engaging in smaller day-to-day interactions. When opting for online therapy, the client is usually situated in a comfortable and familiar environment, which could enhance their level of vulnerability and disclosure.
Aside from the issues mentioned which online therapy helps resolve, there are numerous other benefits to choosing to pursue online therapy, that has encouraged people all over the world to choose this method.
Some people who would like to seek out therapy experience discomfort or shame associated with physically going to a mental health institution or being seen at a therapy clinic; though we should collectively push consciousness which makes online therapy a great solution to this problem. Some platforms, like O7 Therapy, allow clients to use a nickname when signing up.
- Accessibility and Ease
Online therapy allows clients from rural or remote areas to be able to access therapy and even reach therapists that are specialised in a specific area or therapy modality, as they may struggle to find these services where they live. Other clients may be able to access services in their preferred mother-tongue, even while overseas. Of course, importantly, clients who live with physical limitations, whether experience different types of disabilities or are housebound, can now easily access quality mental healthcare services online.
Finally, after the pandemic, many of us have grown accustomed to the ease of everything being completely online and are therefore more comfortable with using technology and may prefer online therapy to traditional in-person therapy.
- Therapist Fees
Online therapy holds the benefit of eliminating all transportation costs from the equation and simplifying the process in that light. Additionally, many online therapy platforms offer monthly paid services at a packaged rate, as well as different service options which often include more affordable options for clients.
Are there downsides to online therapy?
No therapy method is flawless and just like face-to-face therapy had its downsides so does online therapy. Some of these include internet and connection issues such as interrupted sessions, or low video or audio quality. There are also potential privacy and data leaks that could threaten confidentiality. Online therapy is also not necessarily suitable for all therapy modalities (like animal-assisted psychotherapy, for example), or for people who live with severe mental health diagnoses. Therapists living in a country or area other than their clients may face challenges regarding emergency situations and needing to contact nearby psychiatric hospitals if necessary. It may also be difficult for clients to assess the credibility, reliability, quality, and safety of the service they would be receiving, as anyone can say anything online.
To end, though online therapy is not for everyone, it can be for many. Each therapy service has its set of benefits and drawbacks and choosing the right path is entirely dependent on your personal preferences and circumstances. Some people may highly value being in the same room as their therapist and communicating face-to-face, while others prefer the intimacy of going online from the comfort of their space. What is important here is knowing and assessing your options, and recognizing that your journey is unique and important. If you or someone you know would benefit from therapy,￼ today, it could make all the difference. a network of qualified therapists through O7 today, it could make all the difference.